New Heart Failure Treatment Option
UVA Earns National Certification
According to the American Heart Association, about 5.7 million Americans have heart failure. Depending on their age and whether they have other medical conditions, not all heart failure patients may be able to receive a heart transplant. But some heart failure patients may benefit from a transplant alternative – a device that helps the heart pump blood throughout the body.
UVA recently received national certification to implant these devices – called left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) – as “destination therapy,” or permanent treatment, for heart failure patients who are not helped by medication and cannot receive a heart transplant. The certification to implant LVADs came from The Joint Commission, the national group that accredits and certifies hospitals. Most patients receiving a LVAD as a destination therapy will receive the Heartmate II®, which is implanted into a patient’s chest and connected to a battery-pack vest.
The Joint Commission certification signals that “they feel we have everything in place and have outcomes that are outstanding,” says John Kern, MD, chief of heart transplant surgery at the UVA Heart Center.
LVADs are among the treatment options available through UVA’s heart failure program. Patients are evaluated and cared for by a team of specialists in heart failure and heart transplants, including doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, social workers and physical therapists. Patients receive treatment plans tailored to their unique conditions, says James Bergin, MD, medical director of UVA’s heart failure and heart transplant program.